A Guide To Philly’s “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurants To Catch Up With A Few Friends”
There’s a type of place we get asked about a lot: the Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends. Here are 14 to try.
The Infatuation is built on the idea of “Perfect For” categories, catering to assorted restaurant needs. Dinner With The Parents? Date Night? Impressing Out Of Towners? We got it.
But occasionally, we get requests that don’t quite fit into any of The Infatuation’s predetermined categories. And there is one such genre of restaurant that comes up over and over again at parties, while on a hike that we never should’ve agreed to, or when we’re taking a photo of a stranger in front of the LOVE sign. It’s what we’ve come to call the “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends” (SCRPRTCUWFF).
In general, SCRPRTCUWFFs are:
But not so library-quiet that it’s boring.
With plates mostly under $20.
And since we get asked about it a lot, here are our 14 favorites.
photo credit: GAB BONGHI
Pizzeria Beddia used to be a counter-service place where you and your friends had to stand outside in a two-hour line to wait for pizza. While that was certainly a bonding experience, they now have a large sit-down restaurant in Fishtown that's way easier to get into. Aside from serving some of the best pizza in town, there’s a long natural wine list, a few starters like roasted vegetables in a benne miso, and a daily selection of soft serve that you should take as many containers of as you can carry.
photo credit: GAB BONGHI
This East Passyunk Mediterranean spot basically fits every “super cute” requirement, except it sometimes gets a little too noisy. That being said, you could just as easily catch it on a low-key night where you don’t have to overhear conversations about dream vacations to Greece while enjoying crispy grilled baby octopus, golden beet salad with crumbled ricotta, and stringy fried Armenian cheese. The menu here rotates often, but a few things never change: the great view of the sidewalk from the floor-to-ceiling windows, the dimly-lit space that somehow always feels cozy, and your friends demanding that you all come back in a few days.
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photo credit: GAB BONGHI
This vegan BYOB is where your group can unpack your The Last of Us theories while feeling like you’re in a plant nursery—one that just happens to play throwback R&B. The candle-lit Northern Liberties space has velvety green booths and a chef’s counter ideal for sipping on a glass of your favorite rosé while watching smoked potatoes get sliced. There’s no wrong order here, but our favorite dishes include the crispy fried lion’s mane with persimmon jelly, tonnarelli with tofu, and heirloom polenta. We take smaller bites of the irresistibly earthy, creamy mix just to make it last longer.
Between all the neon colors and hanging plants, this place might be more in its element on South Beach than in Center City–and maybe that’s why it's always packed. Or maybe it’s because they have tons of margaritas, like the mango-pineapple, and some made with mezcal and green juice. If you’re looking for more of a quiet dinner with friends, though, try coming a little later at night, when it’s much easier to snag a table without a long wait. Plus, they have something called the Oaxacan Express where you can get a soup, tacos (of your choice), agua fresca, and a house margarita for just $24.
photo credit: Tuna Bar
Open until 11pm on Friday and Saturday, Tuna Bar is a great late-night spot if anyone if your group is one of those “20 minutes late always turns into an hour” types. They have a bunch of raw bar options like $2 and $3 oysters, starters like wagyu beef spring rolls, and endless roll options including the Broad Street that’s filled with spicy salmon. During the spring, you can even look out at the cherry blossom trees that line the front of this Old City Japanese spot.
Fiore Fine Foods
Fiore Fine Foods is an all-day Italian spot in Queen Village that does everything from sweet morning buns the size of your face and house-made tortelli to some of the best gelato in the city. You could stop by early for coffee and fluffy morning buns with a friend on the weekend and then return with a group for wine and braised chicken ragu. At the end of the day, you probably wouldn’t even be sick of it, but maybe give it a few days before you come back for another three-peat.
photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO
Olea is quickly becoming one of our favorite spots in Old City. The seafood-focused Mediterranean BYOB has a back booth where you can fit a small group of friends, along with some simple patterned wooden floors and plants all over the place. But Olea is more than just somewhere that makes you feel like you’ve known the servers forever. They have delicious things like octopus served with a peppery romesco sauce and handmade pasta, like the ribeye and goat cheese stuffed ravioli. Nothing you order will be a miss, and the whole place feels like you're at an easygoing dinner party.
Amina is the kind of spot you daydream about when you’re stuck on the Vine Street Expressway at 5pm. The Old City restaurant has a menu made up of Southern and Nigerian dishes like peppery peri peri sticky wings, some of the most tender oxtails in the city, and a savory gumbo with shrimp, crab, oysters, and spicy chicken sausage in a subtly sweet broth. They also have sharable sides of candied yam puree, creamy mac and cheese, and fried cabbage with chunks of smoked turkey. Bring your friends here for some hearty food that will keep you full enough to cancel your group hike through Pennypack Park the next day.
Where To Get A Big Group Meal Outside In Philly
Cry Baby Pasta
Cry Baby is a neighborhood wine bar in Queen Village, and it’s one of only a handful of places in the city where you can show up with a few friends on a Tuesday night without a reservation, sit down in a colorful room, and order an $18 plate of tagliatelle bolognese with melty parmesan and a bottle of moderately-priced wine ($40-$60). The menu is short and simple, but everything on it, from the bruschetta to the larger shared plates, is exactly what you want from a casual weeknight dinner that you’ll actually remember days later.
L’anima is a Graduate Hospital spot from the people behind Melograno, and unlike most other Italian BYOBs in Philly that are dark and cramped, this one is huge and well-lit. Basically, it’s perfect for meeting a few friends and arguing about who works the most hours. They also have good food, and their Roman-style pinsas and cacio e pepe are definite highlights. If it’s a nice night, there’s also a huge outdoor courtyard that you should take advantage of.
This small BYOB in Fairmount is a bit more expensive than your average neighborhood sushi spot, with entrees like Chilean sea bass that go up to $29, but it's still definitely worth it. The 4-8-15-23-42 is one of our favorites, but any of the rolls or sashimi options are good bets. They also do big combination plates that you can split between a few people, which is a solid option when you’re a faster eater than the rest of the table and can grab a few more pieces than you’re technically owed.
photo credit: Keith Tinari
Pub & Kitchen
Finding a restaurant that everyone in your group can agree to is always a challenge, but that’s why Pub & Kitchen is so special. There’s something for pretty much everyone here, from a burger with whiskey sauce to crispy brussels sprouts and a daily pasta that’s always great. The Rittenhouse gastropub also has sidewalk seating if you’re coming with a smaller group and want to do some people-watching instead of talking.
Trattoria Carina is in Fitler Square, which is arguably the cutest area in the city. It’s a much quieter and less flashy neighborhood than nearby Rittenhouse, and that might be exactly what you want when you’re meeting up with people on a weeknight. The corner spot specializes in classic Italian dishes like tagliatelle bolognese and chicken milanese, but it's the atmosphere that we love. There are no big, loud groups of people—just you, a few friends, a bowl of spaghetti with clams, and a negroni.